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Wilfork on Patriots Hall Induction: 'Means World to Me'

As the 32nd inductee to the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, Vince Wilfork expressed his gratitude for the fans and organization with which he will always have a familial connection.

New England Patriots legend Vince Wilfork awoke to a missed call on Tuesday morning from a 508 area code.

While Wifork may have had a hunch as to the reason behind the call from the New England area, it was not until he returned it that he discovered the call to have come from Patriots CEO and Chairman Robert Kraft.

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Once his assistant had merged him into the call, Kraft informed the former defensive lineman that he had been voted by the fans as the 32nd inductee into the Patriots Hall of Fame. It was a call which Wilfork had hoped to receive his entire career, and also one for which he was most grateful.

“Being able to wake up to that beautiful music,” Wilfork said when speaking to reporters on Tuesday afternoon, “that beautiful news of being selected in the Patriots Hall of Fame, it means the world to me.”

Since joining the Patriots in 2004, Wilfork has been a regional fan favorite. As a result of the team’s unprecedented success, Wilfork has been able to share his talents and enthusiasm for the game with generations of Patriots fans. Although he retired in 2017, the support Wilfork received from the New England fan base continues to have an impact on him.

“The one thing I really love about it, the fan base we have in Boston, you can’t compare,” Wilfork said. “Here’s something about being a New England guy, being a fan and playing sports there, one thing I know, the fans love their sports there and their athletes. And as athletes, we love to embrace that. I’veI never played in a stadium with the type of fans we had.”

Along with Tom Brady, Wilfork holds the distinction of being only one of two players able to bridge the team’s pair of championship eras. He won his first championship ring as a rookie in 2004 [defeating the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX] and his second in the Pats’ victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Wilfork is keenly aware that success if this type is not easy to achieve, and can only be possible through sound leadership.

“Honestly, it just shows you the credit that goes to Mr. [Robert] Kraft and the Patriots organization, and [head coach] Bill Belichick and his staff,” said Wilfork. “Being able to do what they’ve done for two decades, I don’t think we’ll ever see that again at this level.

As a result of the team’s unprecedented success, Wilfork has been able to share his talents and enthusiasm for the game with generations of Patriots fans. Although he retired in 2017, the support Wilfork received from the New England fan base continues to have an impact on him.

“The one thing I really love about it, the fan base we have in Boston, you can’t compare,” Wilfork said. “Here’s something about being a New England guy, being a fan and playing sports there, one thing I know, the fans love their sports there and their athletes. And as athletes, we love to embrace that. I have never played in a stadium with the type of fans we [Patriots] had.”

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Still, for as much appreciation as Wilfork has for New England fans, he is cognizant of attributing his success to his prowess on the field. The five-time Pro Bowler, and four-time All-Pro remains confident in his place in pro football folklore.

“I've always regarded myself as one of the best defensive tackles, the best nose tackle, that ever played the game,” Wilfork stated. “And, people can fight me on it, people can have their opinions on it, but I'm just telling you where I stand, because I was that one guy that can go from left to right defensive end, and anywhere in the middle. So I was a nightmare for offenses trying to figure out where I'm going to be.”

Despite the bit of bravado in his declaration, Wilfork remains humbled by his success. He also continues to provide a large portion of the credit to his head coach for over a decade.

“And, all that credit goes to Bill Belichick,” Wilfork offered with pride. “That's totally Bill trusting me enough to be able to learn those positions, and not only play those positions, but play them at a high level. You could throw anybody out there and try something, but I played those positions at a very high level. So it's not like he was just putting me out there just because we didn't have extra bodies or anything. No, he put me out there because he knew that I was capable of doing what I needed to do out there.”

For Belichick, the feeling appears to be mutual. The Pats head coach has consistently praised Wilfork as one of the best defensive players he has coached. On Wednesday, Belichick offered the following sentiments on Wilfork’s forthcoming enshrinement to the Patriots Hall of Fame:

"Vince exemplified all the things that define football greatness. Vince's rare physical ability was obvious, but it was his professional approach to the game, his competitiveness, toughness and dedication to the team that set him, and several of his teams, apart. Vince Wilfork is an all-time great player."

(Cred: Patriots Media Relations)

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In the final analysis, Wilfork’s greatness is not to be determined by individual accomplishments, accolades, or even the evaluation of his coach. Rather, his desire to win and perform at the highest level is what has made him a Patriots Hall-of-Famer. As such, he will wear his red jacket well.

“I accomplished something that many players probably think and want to have in their career,” Wilfork remarked. “ I’m blessed to be in a position to do that — it’s an honor to be regarded as one of the best that’s ever done it for the Patriots. I love it.”